35-Year-Old Goalie – Carolina Hurricanes
Michael Leighton Contract Information:
Signing a one-year, two-way contract with the Hurricanes in September 2016.
Leighton was assigned to AHL Charlotte on Thursday.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
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Veteran backup goalie Leighton barely played in 2012-13 due to a finger injury and will likely begin the year in the AHL.
Leighton saw the majority of starts with Adirondack (AHL) in a three-goalie rotation last year, posting a .918 save percentage on his way to becoming an AHL All-Star. He's the likely candidate to back up Ilya Bryzgalov this season despite no time with the Flyers last year, after re-signing with the organization in July. Leighton is just two years removed from guiding the Flyers within two games of the Stanley Cup.
After seeing some time between the pipes in 2009-10, Leighton managed to play in just one regular season game for the Flyers last season due to a back injury that required surgery. More recently, he's added a hip ailment to his injury problems and with Ilya Bryzgalov now in the fold, it would appear that Leighton is in line for another year of sparse work. He's also behind Sergei Bobrovsky on the depth chart, though there have been some rumblings that Bobrovsky could be dealt, clearing the way for Leighton to be the primary backup for Philly. However, the Flyers do have a few more younger netminders in the system that Leighton would have to fight off.
Leighton will miss the first month of the season with a bulging disc in his back. It could also set him back in the race to earn starts for the Flyers as one of the other netminders could use that month to establish himself. The Flyers did invest in Leighton with a two-year deal this summer, so he's certainly in the mix, injury or not.
Leighton’s workload decreased once head coach Paul Maurice took over for Peter Laviolette in the 2008-09 season. When the season wrapped up, his final stats included a .292 goals against average and .901 save percentage with six wins and seven losses. Cam Ward is the main man stopping pucks in Raleigh, so Leighton will continue to work part-time between the pipes.
Of all the players in the Carolina system who aren't established in the NHL, Leighton has the greatest potential for a breakout in 2008-09. That's because he's playing behind Cam Ward, who notoriously slumps several times a year. Leighton will eventually be given a shot to tend the Carolina net, and if he responds with a couple of good games (or if Ward gets hurt), it's eminently foreseeable that Leighton could wrest the No. 1 job away.
Leighton will be the presumptive starter at AHL Albany, and will probably be the first callup in the event of an injury to Cam Ward or John Grahame.
Leighton figures to spend a lot of time in the AHL this season, until the Ducks decide to part ways with J.S. Giguere or Ilya Bryzgalov. Unless one of the aforementioned netminders suffers an injury, stay away from Leighton on draft day.
Leighton was and now is the teams number two goalie. He has shown that he is a good goalie in the minors, but not yet in the NHL, although he did not have much in front of him in 03-04. Leighton was the first Blackhawk goalie to log a shutout in his pro debut.